Jersey - 25th June – 2nd July 2011
Choosing a day, an experience, which stood out on our Jersey trip was difficult. The north coast is stunning, the lanes are peaceful and the history is fascinating. Eventually I decided that La Hogue Bie, for me, encapsulates so much of the essence of Jersey. The site itself is initially pleasant; grass areas shaded by trees, picnic tables and functional buildings housing a large collection of artifacts.
The actual delight comes in discovering the varied aspects of the island’s history. Over 6,000 years ago local tribes excavated the rock and built a passageway; almost certainly a ceremonial centre, as at the solstice dawn rays flood in and illuminate an inner chamber. It is possible to stoop and walk through, gradually being able to stand and walk into the chamber.The stillness giving a fragile link to the past.Far above, on top of the earthworks is the small, peaceful stone chapel. On the day we visited local artist Karen Blampied was completing her icon of the Madonna of the Dawn; a link between the pagan solstice and the Christian church established on the same site.
Other structures at La Hogue Bie relate to a different, more disturbing and frightening time for the islanders; the time of the German Occupation. The stark simplicity of the layout in the bunkers emphasises the dangers of the war years; the inhumanity as well as the courage. On the surface the sculpture of the man straining every fibre of his being as he pulls himself out of the earth symbolises their ultimate triumph over adversity.